Today started with a series of unfortunate events that ended up leading us to a perfect little island of the coast and resulted in the most perfect afternoon!
We headed out to the car around 0800am today to get started on some site seeing and our big hike. But as we were getting in the car, the owner of the apartment we were staying at came out and called Jay over to talk to him. The man said that they had double booked the room we were in for that night, and he needed us to leave. We were a little shocked at the request, but said ok. The man told us he had a different place lined up for us down at the beach. So, we headed back into the apartment to pack up our stuff.
Once we had everything out of the apartment, the man introduced us to two gentlemen in a car parked nearby and said that they would take us to the new place. So, we followed them for a short time, and they dropped us off at a house where we met a different person who got in his car and told us to follow him to the place. This was getting to be kind of complicated, but we followed this new man, who we assumed to be the owner of the new apartment. When we arrived, we were taken to a cozy little second story apartment with a balcony overlooking the water. It was very nice, and with the view, we didn’t mind being evicted from our other place as much.
But we had sites to see today, so we couldn’t stick around the new apartment for long. We dropped off our stuff and headed back out.
We planned to go to a nearby park with several attractions. The first part was Chamarel Waterfall which was a lovely bifurcated waterfall made from the volcanic rock.
The second attraction was called the 7 Colored Earths. This was an interesting site. Over time, erosion stripped the dirt of any nutrients so there is no vegetation that can grow here. In addition, the iron and aluminum oxide in the different color dirts repel each other creating the different colored strips. It’s very pretty to see. I decided that the 7 colors were brown, tan, grey, light purple, dark purple, pink, and red (but the colors were never listed anywhere).
Our next activity for the morning was our big hike. Jay had mapped out a trail that was about a 9 mile loop up two different peaks in Black River Gorge. We had a little bit of a drive to the gorge, and this is where our next unfortunate event happened. As we were making our right hand turn (driving on the left side of the road) up toward the mountain, we nearly got run over by a bus. Remember I said that drivers frequently drive around parked cars using the opposite lane? Well, when Jay slowed down and put on his turn signal to make his turn, there were two buses behind us. The first bus realized we were slowing down to turn, but we think the second bus thought we were stopping and pulled out to try to pass us. We didn’t see the second bus coming up until we were making our right turn and nearly got t-boned by the bus. Luckily Jay swerved out of the way and stopped on the left side of the road. But it was close!
After we recovered, we made a u-turn and headed back to the turn we missed when we nearly got hit by the bus. We drove up a winding road with hairpin turns into Black Gorge. We were getting pretty high up and thought that there would be some nice lookouts, but the vegetation was so dense everywhere that you could hardly see anything.
In order to see a lookout, we actually passed the trailhead we were going to use and headed up to a waterfall lookout up the road. The platform usually used to see the waterfall was under construction, so we couldn’t get a great view, but we did our best. Then we headed back to the trailhead.
As we approached the trailhead, we saw a pretty big rain cloud forming above one of the peaks (Black River Peak) we were going to climb, so we took some time to try to decide if we should do the full hike, or just try to summit the tallest peak. As we were deciding and gathering our stuff to get ready for the hike, we realized that we had left the lunch we packed at the apartment. In our rush to move apartments, we carried in the bag with our lunch and accidentally left it. Not feeling comfortable doing a 9 mile hike with no food, we decided we’d summit the tallest peak and call it a day.
We headed out on the trail. Almost the entire way, we were in a tunnel of trees. The vegetation was so thick that you couldn’t see anything except at a couple of places with clearings. The trail was pretty muddy in some spots as well and we were having flashbacks to our Rwenzori Trek with our gum boots.
The hike had a lot of rolling hills so every time you climbed up, you would have a steep down climb as well. It was like this until the very end, which had a steep incline to the top. There were ropes to assist in making the climb which was a little tricky. But we made it.
It was a nice view of the city from the top. Unfortunately, there were about 10 people up there with us and one of them was a very loud, very annoying French man who didn’t stop talking the entire time we were up there.
So after snapping some pictures, we headed back down. We got a few sprinkles on the way down, but otherwise had a nice hike. Our legs and shoes were covered in mud by the end, but we were pretty used to the mud by now.
We headed back to the apartment for our lunch. We ate our PB&Js we had packed for the hike on the balcony. While watching the water, we noticed some kayakers heading back to the shore from an island just across the bay. We thought, “hey, that looks like fun!” So Jay grabbed his phone to look up some kayak rentals nearby.
But as luck would have it, the people renting us the apartment had a kayak and said that we could use it. We packed our bags, carried the kayak down to the ocean, and headed off to the island.
We paddled around the island to the other side and found a nice beach to dock on. There were very few people on the island and we basically had the beach to ourselves. We took a quick swim and then took a walk along the beach.
Jay was snapping pictures the whole time like he always does, so I didn’t think anything was out of the norm. He set up his camera on a tree stump with a self timer and had me stand ready while he ran over so we could get a picture of the both of us.
After taking a couple of self timed pictures and finally getting it right, he did one more. But this time, he grabbed my hands and got down on one knee. He proposed to me on a beautiful private beach in Mauritius with the sun going down and the water sparkling behind us. It was perfect!
Even though we were evicted from our apartment this morning, and then we were almost hit by a bus, and then we forgot our lunch and had to take a shorter hike, it was all worth it because it all lead us to that kayak and that little island out in the Indian Ocean where Jay proposed!
To top it all off, when we kayaked back to our apartment after the proposal, there was a rainbow right above us as we paddled in. We took that as a sign the Mauritius gods were smiling on our engagement.